Chapter 1

CHAPTER ONE

LEAVEN-LIKE EVANGELISM

OBJECTIVES:

Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:

  • Write the Key Verses from memory.
  • Define “leaven-like evangelism.”
  • Explain “the definition of the lost.”
  • Explain “the destiny of the lost.”
  • Identify six steps in the evangelism process.

KEY VERSES:

And again He said, Whereunto shall I liken the Kingdom of God?

It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Luke 13:20-21)

INTRODUCTION

This lesson discusses the need for evangelism, explains the process of evangelism, and defines terms that are important for you to understand as you begin your study of this subject. In Old Testament times when the temple was built, the sound of a hammer, axe, or any tool of iron was not heard while it was being constructed (1 Kings 6:7).

The silence with which those great natural stones were put into place is a natural example of a great spiritual truth. A “greater than Solomon” is now building a greater spiritual temple. This spiritual temple is made up of “living stones” being laid by the Lord Jesus Christ. This temple also is being erected silently, with each stone perfectly fitted together. It is occurring through the silent but powerful process of “leaven-like evangelism.”

LEAVEN-LIKE EVANGELISM

And again He said, Whereunto shall I liken the Kingdom of God?

It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Luke 13:20-21)

This passage reveals that God’s work does not proceed with a lot of clamor and publicity. You might expect the Kingdom to spread by external means like subduing armies and conquering continents. But the spreading of the Kingdom of God is as leaven in a lump of bread dough. The leaven may be small and hidden, but it has unlimited potential. Like leaven, the power of the Kingdom is not external but rather internal.

In another example, Jesus compared the spread of the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed:

. . . Unto what is the Kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?

It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden, and it grew and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. (Luke 13:18-19)

In a previous parable, Jesus compared faith to a mustard seed. He said nothing was impossible with even a small amount of faith. Similar to the way leaven spreads, a tiny mustard seed develops into a great tree. This example also illustrates the silent, yet powerfully effective way the Kingdom advances.

There are many new methods that can assist in spreading the Gospel. These are called “technology.” They include things such as printing presses, computers, radios, televisions, audio and video tapes, and satellites. New methods of transportation also help people travel rapidly to spread the Gospel. These new technologies are all useful but the real power of the Gospel is still internal. By this we mean the power is in the Gospel itself. This is what the parables of the leaven and the mustard seed illustrate.

The Gospel of the Kingdom of God will multiply to spread throughout the whole “lump” of the world because of the internal power of the Kingdom which is like leaven in bread dough. This means that the extension of the Gospel is not limited where people do not have advanced technology. With even a small amount of faith, the Kingdom will advance. This is leaven-like evangelism.

THE DEFINITION OF EVANGELISM

The word for “evangelism” (or “evangelization”) comes from a Greek word “evangelion.” There are actually four forms of this basic word. One word means “good news,” two words mean “to proclaim the good news,” and one refers to the “evangelist” or person doing the proclaiming.

Evangelism is not just a series of meetings or church services. Evangelism is not the same as revival. Revival is the Lord at work in the Church. In revival, the emphasis is on the presence of the Lord restoring life to His people.

Evangelism is the church at work for the Lord. In evangelism the emphasis is on the new birth experience, the beginning of spiritual life. The renewal resulting from revival, however, sets in motion the forces of evangelism which result in “new creatures in Christ” so the two are tightly linked together in terms of spiritual life.

Evangelism is:

. . . “communicating the Gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way that men and women have valid opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and become responsible members of His Church.”

Let us examine this definition in detail. The “Gospel” is the message to be communicated. The basic Gospel message is summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5, but the “Gospel of the Kingdom” actually includes all that Jesus taught (Matthew 28:18-20). Biblical conversion is brought about by truth. The Gospel is an encounter between truth and unrighteousness, Christ and sinners, and Heaven and Hell.

It is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God which is to be shared, not the traditions of man or denominational beliefs. The goal is not to attack political systems or other religions. The goal is not to change society, but to see people changed through the power of the Gospel.

The goal is not even the “good works” of educational, medical, or care and feeding programs. These things are beneficial in fulfilling the Great Commission only as they are done within the context of evangelism. The presentation of the Gospel must be the end goal or they become only social programs.

Jesus ministered to the physical needs of people in the feeding of the multitudes, healing, and deliverance. But these works were done within the context of evangelizing. They were accompanied by the teaching and preaching of the Gospel.

To “communicate the Gospel” means that it must be shared in a way that leads people to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. When you share the Gospel in this way, you are evangelizing.

If you are to evangelize, you must be in contact with those who are spiritually lost in sin, so evangelism must take place out where the sinners are.

“Through the power of the Holy Spirit” means that the message must be communicated not only verbally, but through the demonstration of power. Paul said:

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power;

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

“Through the power of the Holy Spirit” also means that the anointing of the Holy Spirit must be upon the communication of the Gospel, for it takes the work of the Spirit to win converts:

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him… (John 6:44)

“Accepting” means that the hearer responds to the message. Information without invitation is instruction. It is exhortation, but it is not evangelism. In true evangelism, there must be an opportunity for response. Giving someone your testimony of conversion is a method of evangelism called witnessing, but it is not evangelism. Witnessing is not winning. Witnessing is important, but it does not assure salvation. True evangelism means introducing people to Christ in such a way that they will see the necessity of a personal decision. Evangelism results in the born again experience which is also called “conversion” or “salvation.”

“Accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord” means not only a response to receive salvation, but a process which leads to Jesus becoming Lord of a person’s life. This implies that the new convert moves on into discipleship becoming a responsible member of the Church. Note that it is “His Church,” meaning the true Body of Christ, not just a specific denomination or organization.

A “valid opportunity” means the message must be sustained long enough in a way that can be understood by an average person. This means communication must be adapted to the language, educational, and cultural levels of an individual. This also means that we cannot conclude that a person or village has been evangelized simply because we preached there one time. The witness must be sustained long enough that understanding and opportunity for response results.

Individuals, a family, tribe, or nation can be said to have been evangelized when they have come into contact with the Gospel enough to have had opportunity to respond to it by faith. This “valid opportunity” also implies a powerful message which provides opportunity for people to see the visible demonstration of the Gospel through healing and deliverance.

THE NEED FOR EVANGELISM

Why does the world need to be evangelized? To answer this question you must understand two things: The definition and the destiny of the lost.

DEFINITION OF THE LOST:

Read about the creation of the world and man in Genesis chapters l and 2. Then read Genesis 3 about how sin entered the world. When Adam and Eve were first created, they had a perfect

sinless nature. After they sinned that nature was corrupted. As Adam and Eve began to reproduce and have children, these new additions to the human race were born with a basic sin nature. Man was no longer good as God had created him. His natural thought and action patterns were evil.

Genesis 4:1-6:4 describes the pattern of sin as it began to spread throughout the world. These chapters record the first murder, the first lie, and how the wickedness of man grew until every thought, as well as action, was evil. Finally, the whole world was so sinful that God actually repented that He had made man (Genesis 6:5-6).

Because of the rapid growth of sin, God decided to destroy the earth with a flood but saved one righteous man, Noah, and his family. (Read the story of Noah and the flood in Genesis 6:8- 9:17.) After the flood, Noah’s family began to reproduce. Almost immediately, the pattern of sin reoccurred. This is why all people everywhere are called “sinners”:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

All people who have not repented of sin and experienced the new birth described by Jesus in John chapter 3 are considered “lost” because they have lost the sinless nature with which God originally created man. We may also say they are “unsaved” or “unbelievers” because they have not been saved from their sins through believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

DESTINY OF THE LOST:

Because of the original sin of Adam and Eve, death entered into the world and because of this eventually everyone dies physically. After physical death comes judgment:

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

After death, we will stand before God for judgment. People who have not repented of their sins will face a second death. They will die the “spiritual death” of eternal separation from God.

Their destiny is Hell:

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. . .

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12, 15)

When you really understand the destiny of the lost, you realize the urgent need for evangelism.

If people are not reached with the Gospel, they will die in sin and be destined for eternity in Hell.

THE PROCESS OF EVANGELISM

Evangelism is a process that includes the presence and proclamation of the Gospel, persuasion, planting, perfection, and participation. Let us examine this process:

PRESENCE:

“Presence” evangelism is that which radiates the qualities of Jesus through demonstrating Christian character and concern. The world will not be reached for Jesus without an authentic Christian presence. Believers must learn to build relationships, identify with, and serve unbelievers. You cannot win sinners if you have no contact with them.

PROCLAMATION:

Many believers remain “secret-service” Christians, so to speak. They think their presence among unbelievers is enough to fulfill the Great Commission to evangelize the world. But the command of Jesus is that we verbally communicate the Gospel through preaching, teaching, and  witnessing. We must also demonstrate the power of the Gospel through healing and deliverance. These are ways the Gospel is proclaimed.

PERSUASION:

Proclamation of the Gospel does not end the process of evangelism. The Gospel must be presented in such a way that people are persuaded to become believers in Jesus Christ.

PLANTING:

The new convert who has been persuaded to follow Jesus must then be “planted” in a local church fellowship or a church must be “planted” among a group of new believers.

PERFECTION:

As a result of this planting, converts mature spiritually as discipling is accomplished within the context of the local church. (Spiritual maturity is called “perfection” in the Bible).

PARTICIPATION:

The process of evangelism is complete when new believers become active in the task of evangelism themselves and begin to reproduce spiritually.